Memorial Day weekend is like Christmas for motorsports fans. Three iconic races all on the same day with the Monaco Grand Prix in the morning, the Indianapolis 500 in the afternoon and the Coca-Cola 600 to finish it all off. Not only is it great for fans, but drivers as well.
Some NASCAR drivers have either skipped the Coca-Cola 600 for Indianapolis or have attempted to pull “Double Duty.” Kyle Larson will attempt the Double next year, but here is a history of NASCAR drivers who have competed at Indy. This list will be limited to prominent or full-time NASCAR drivers who made the field at Indianapolis while competing in NASCAR.
1966: Cale Yarborough
Cale Yarborough was by far the most common stock car driver cross-over to Indianapolis during this era. The future three-time NASCAR Champion qualified 24th driving for Jim Robbins. However, his race would be over before it really began as he was involved in a multi-car accident on the first lap to finish 28th.
1967: Cale Yarborough and LeeRoy Yarbrough
LeeRoy Yarbrough would join Cale Yarborough for the 1967 Indianapolis 500. While LeeRoy would only run Indianapolis. Cale became the first driver to attempt both races as, back in those days, the races were held on different days.
In a race that saw only eight drivers finish, LeeRoy was involved in an accident and finished 27th after starting 26th. Cale would complete 176 laps before crashing out, finishing in 17th.
1969: LeeRoy Yarbrough
LeeRoy would attempt the Indianapolis 500 once again in 1969. He would win the World 600 at Charlotte five days prior, setting up the potential to be the first driver to win both races. He did qualify in eighth, but was relegated to 23rd after completing only 67 laps due to a mechanical issue.
In another piece of racing history, Mario Andretti famously won the 1969 Indianapolis 500, two years after winning the Daytona 500. To this day, he is the only driver to win the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500.
1970: Donnie Allison and Lee Roy Yarbrough
Lee Roy attempted the Indianapolis 500 again in 1970, but Donnie Allison would join him this time. Allison would win the World 600 in 1970, setting up the opportunity to win both races. He would come closer than anyone ever has to winning both finishing a solid fourth for A.J. Foyt after starting in 20th. Allison was the first driver to complete all 1100 miles of both races.
Lee Roy once again was dealt a bad hand at Indianapolis. Another mechanical issue relegated him to a 19th place finish despite a decent 13th place qualifying run.
1971: Donnie Allison and Cale Yarborough
After a three year hiatus, Cale would attempt Indianapolis once again, and Allison was back for the second straight year. Cale enjoyed his best Indianapolis 500 run to date finishing in 16th despite an oil leak ending his day after 140 laps.
Allison once again impressed by qualifying in 20th, but working his way up slowly. He would finish one lap down in sixth place.
1972: Cale Yarborough
Yarborough would attempt his fourth and final Indianapolis 500 in 1972. Despite qualifying on the last row in 32nd place, he would quietly work his way through the field. Unlike previous Indianapolis 500s, Yarborough was able to finish the race on track recording a 10th place finish seven laps down.
1973: Bobby Allison
As Bobby Allison started racing for Roger Penske, it was only natural that he would try to attempt the Indianapolis 500. Despite a decent qualifying run of 12th, Allison only completed one lap before his race ended. He would finish a dismal 32nd.
After this year, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act went into effect, placing Memorial Day as the last Monday in May. This meant that the Indy 500 and the Coca Cola 600 would be run at the same time, killing off any attempt at running both.
1975: Bobby Allison
Despite this change, Bobby Allison still attempted the race once again for Penske. He would qualify 12th again, and he even led one lap on the day. Unfortunately, a mechanical issue relegated Allison to a 25th place finish.
That would virtually end NASCAR involvement at Indy for the time being. Until the 1990s when the Coca-Cola 600 was moved to later in the day, setting up a new challenge, “The Double”.
1994: John Andretti
The first driver to attempt both races was appropriately an Andretti, as John would run the Indianapolis 500 for A.J. Foyt and the Coca-Cola 600 for Billy Hagan. At Indy, Andretti qualified in 10th and finished 10th four laps down.
At Charlotte, he would qualify a solid ninth, but would start at the back due to missing the drivers meeting while traveling from Indy to Charlotte. Unfortunately, a mechanical issue ended Andretti’s day after 220 laps.
1997: Robby Gordon
Robbie Gordon was next to race in both races, but the weather played some havoc in both events. At Indianapolis, Gordon qualified 12th, but rain postponed the race to Tuesday. At Charlotte Gordon was able to race, but finished 41st due to a crash in a race shortened by rain to 333 laps.
When the Indy 500 resumed on Tuesday, Gordon was done after only 19 laps after a fire. He would attempt both races again in the future.
1999: Tony Stewart
Tony Stewart, then just a NASCAR rookie, attempted both races 1999. The “Double Duty” began the week prior as Stewart would qualify 24th at Indianapolis before winning the Winston Open to transfer to The Winston. He would finish second in the All-Star event.
The next week, Stewart would finish a solid ninth, but four laps down at Indianapolis. At Charlotte, Stewart would finish a solid fourth leading 13 laps. It was not the last time he would attempt both races.
2000: Robby Gordon
Robbie Gordon would attempt both races again in 2000, and again weather came into play. Gordon would miss the start of the Coca-Cola 600 after the Indianapolis 500 was delayed by rain. After finishing sixth at Indianapolis, Gordon would replace P.J. Jones at Charlotte and finish 34th, nine laps down.
2001: Tony Stewart
Tony Stewart accomplished a feat no one had ever done in motorsports, run all 1100 miles of these two races in the same day. After qualifying seventh at Indianapolis, Stewart would lead 13 laps and finish sixth. At Charlotte, Stewart recorded a top-five, finishing fourth.
He became the first driver since Donnie Allison in 1970 to complete all 1100 miles of these two races. However, Allison did those on separate days, as Stewart did this in one day.
2002: Robby Gordon
Robbie Gordon was finally able to attempt “The Double” with little issue in 2002. He would finish eighth at Indianapolis on the lead after starting 11th. At Charlotte, Gordon finished 16th one lap down, just short of completing both races fully.
2003: Robby Gordon
Gordon enjoyed a great qualifying run at Indianapolis qualifying in third, but a mechanical issue relegated him to 22nd. At Charlotte, Gordon was no much of a factor, finishing in 17th in a race shortened to 276 laps due to rain.
2004: Robby Gordon
2004 was the last time Gordon would attempt both races. Indianapolis was a day to forget as Gordon would drop out after 88 laps with mechanical troubles to finish in 29th. At Charlotte, Gordon would finish three laps down in 20th.
2014: Kurt Busch
Kurt Busch is the most recent driver to attempt both races. He would take home the Indy 500 Rookie of the Year finishing in sixth at Indianapolis. At Charlotte, engine issue ended his day early as he would finish 40th completing only 271 laps.
It will be interesting to see how Kyle Larson does at Indianapolis Motor Speedway next season. NASCAR stars at Indianapolis always brings more eyes to both races on Memorial Day weekend.